With the heatwave giving way to rain, hail and thunderstorms across the country, the worst of it seems to be over, even if the weekend is still expected to become a hot one.
Not only did the high temperatures cause Belgium to break its own record for warmest week since the observations started, but they likely also caused a peak in the number of coronavirus deaths.
Over the past few weeks, Belgium has averaged two to three deaths a day, peaking at five. “This week, 11 coronavirus patients died on Monday, 13 on Tuesday, and at least nine on Wednesday,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht during a press conference on Friday.
About 75% of the deceased people were residents in a care home. “It is possible that the coronavirus, heat and increased ozone concentrations together contributed to the peak in deaths,” said Van Gucht. “Elderly people quickly become victims of heat and ozone. But it is still too early to make conclusive statements about this.”
In other news, half of the people in Brussels are tired of the coronavirus regulations and the pressure to go back to the workplace is increasing, despite government advice against it.
With that in mind, here are some of the top stories from around the country to get you up to speed.
Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:
With an average temperature of 33.5°C in the Uccle measurement station, Belgium has experienced the hottest week since the start of the measurements in 1833.
The new record was set between 6 and 12 August, with an average of 33.5°C, weather reporter and head of the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) David Dehenauw announced via Twitter on Thursday. Read More.
Many people in Brussels are not complying with the obligatory face mask rule implemented yesterday, said Inge Neven, head of the health inspectorate, during a press conference on Thursday.
“This morning, about half of the people I saw were not wearing a face mask,” Neven said, adding that she is afraid that people are tired of complying with the rules.
On Wednesday, the obligation to wear a face mask in the entire Brussels-Capital Region went into force, as the average number of new coronavirus infections per day passed the alarm threshold of 50 per 100,000 inhabitants. Read more.
Since May, more people are systematically returning to their workplace, despite the government’s recommendations to continue to work from home if possible, the results of the 17th edition of the Great Corona Study by the University of Antwerp show.
This can be partly explained by the increasing pressure from managers and senior management, according to the researchers. Read more.
The federal government is threatening to impose financial penalties on laboratories that drag their feet in returning the results of coronavirus tests, Belga reports.
As the number of cases is again rising, and the contact tracing system is still experiencing trouble getting off the ground, the government is worried that it is taking too long for people who were tested to be given their results. Read more.